Boston Bruins

  • The Bruins are officially two thirds of the way through their 2022 preseason.

    And despite Monday’s best attempt at banning preseason hockey for the rest of our lives with a 1-0 final in New Jersey, this has been one wildly entertaining camp for the Bruins from a competition standpoint. It feels like the Bruins have as many as 11 contenders for just seven or eight spots on the roster. In other words, it’s widely known and understood that there’s just not enough room for everyone.

    Now, Don Sweeney and the Bruins may have found their ‘out’ on that front (not that they’d want it) with the laundry list of injuries hitting the Bruins to begin the season.

    The Bruins already know that they’ll be without winger Brad Marchand, along with defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy, to begin the season. But the Bruins added another bed to the infirmary Sunday with word that Taylor Hall, projected to be the team’s second-line left wing, will be week-to-week with an upper-body injury sustained in last Saturday’s preseason game at TD Garden.

    So, how will the Bruins line things up out of the gate? Let’s try to figure that one out.

  • Forward Lines

    Aug 23, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with center David Krejci (46) and center Patrice Bergeron (37) after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in game one of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 23, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with center David Krejci (46) and center Patrice Bergeron (37) after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in game one of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Nick Foligno – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk

    Apr 28, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) reacts with left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 28, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) reacts with left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) after scoring a goal against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    First of all, do not shoot the messenger here. I repeat, do not shoot the messenger here.

    When discussing what the Bruins’ next steps are with Hall out of action, Bruins head Jim Montgomery seemed to tip that he was going to drop Pavel Zacha down from Bergeron’s left wing to David Krejci’s left wing. That would create an opening next to Bergeron, and Montgomery circled Nick Foligno, Trent Frederic, and A.J. Greer as his options there. And of that group of three, Foligno seems like the natural ‘first man up’ for the Bruins based on how the others lines have shaped up through camp.

    Foligno knows he did not have anything even close to a strong first year with the Bruins. He vowed to come back stronger, and he’s said all the right things in terms of setting himself up for a bounce-back season. So, let’s see if that happens by putting him with your do-it-all center and your hottest second-half scorer.

    Maybe you find lightning in a bottle there with Foligno riding to the left of Bergeron and DeBrusk, and maybe it helps Foligno get into the groove he was unable to find at any point last season.

  • Pavel Zacha – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 27: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with David Krejci #46 after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at TD Garden on February 27, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Stars 4-3. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – FEBRUARY 27: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with David Krejci #46 after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars at TD Garden on February 27, 2020. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Assuming Hall is indeed out for Opening Night, Zacha seems to be the likely replacement on line two.

    “They come from the same school of thought with their upbringing, so let’s see what it looks like,” Montgomery said of an all-Czech line with Zacha to the left of Krejci and Pastrnak. “It’s the same for Russians [and] the same for Swedes. There’s a school they’re brought up in and a style of play that makes it a little simpler for them to understand each other. It’s not a language thing, it’s more of a school of the way they’re raised in the thought of hockey. The way they play is consistent.”

    “The communication obviously would be a little bit different, maybe not easier but different, just saying [anything] in one language,” Krejci said of adding Zacha to his line. “If Pavel’s gonna get a shot, then obviously we have to talk. But I like what I see. I know what kind of player he is, played against him for many years. Hopefully the chemistry’s gonna be there, that’s all you can ask for.”

    Zacha, acquired from Jersey in a one-for-one trade involving Erik Haula, is coming off a career-high 36 points last season, and scored a career-high 17 goals during the pandemic-delayed 2021 season.

  • Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith

    Feb 12, 2022; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11-center) celebrates with center Charlie Coyle (13-left) and center Craig Smith (12) in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 12, 2022; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Bruins left wing Trent Frederic celebrates with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith after scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Bruins promoted A.J. Greer to the left of Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith for a couple of practices, but it’s looking like that third-line left wing spot will indeed go to Trent Frederic out of the gate in 2022-23.

    Together for over 22 minutes of five-on-five play this preseason, the Frederic-Coyle-Smith line has a 63.64 corsi-for percentage, and hold a 14-to-9 shot advantage over that 22-minute sample.

    Their results last year were mostly encouraging last year, too, as they scored at a similar on-ice clip as Boston’s top line with DeBrusk to the right of Marchand and Bergeron. Consistency would be the necessary fix for this line, as there were too many nights where they were either unstoppable or simply invisible.

  • A.J. Greer – Jack Studnicka – Marc McLaughlin

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 03: Jack Studnicka #23 of the Boston Bruins gets tangled up with Jonas Siegenthaler #71 of the New Jersey Devils during the first period during the first period at the Prudential Center on October 03, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – OCTOBER 03: Jack Studnicka of the Boston Bruins gets tangled up with Jonas Siegenthaler of the New Jersey Devils during at the Prudential Center on October 03, 2022. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    The more I see this line, the more convinced I am that this is going to be Boston’s fourth line to open the season. Monday night in New Jersey only furthered that belief for me, as the Bruins fed this line a steady diet of defensive-zone work. That’s absolutely going to be expected out of them should they emerge as the fourth line, and the good news is that they didn’t completely sink against an NHLer-heavy Jersey lineup.

    Individually, it’s impossible for me to look at Greer’s preseason and say that he hasn’t been one of Boston’s top four left wings. It’s impossible for me to say that Jack Studnicka, who is eligible for waivers for the first time in his career, hasn’t embraced the challenge put forth by Montgomery. And McLaughlin, who has numbers working against him in the sense that he does not require waivers, has been undeniable.

    This is a line that should work for the Bruins out of the gate, especially after all the offseason talk from the Bruins about their need to integrate more younger players into their lineup.

    Deployed for almost 19 minutes of five-on-five work this fall, the Bruins hold an on-ice advantage of 14-to-11 with Greer-Studnicka-McLaughlin out there, and have a 19-to-12 advantage in shot attempts.

  • Defensive pairings

    Mar 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) tries to knock the puck away from Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) tries to knock the puck away from Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Hampus Lindholm – Anton Stralman

    Sep 27, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Anton Stralman (36) skates the puck ahead of New York Rangers left wing Dryden Hunt (29) during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Sep 27, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Anton Stralman (36) skates the puck ahead of New York Rangers left wing Dryden Hunt (29) during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Anton Stralman has spent almost all of Bruins camp to the right of Hampus Lindholm, and Lindholm has spent almost all of his camp with Stralman as his pairing partner. The two Swedes did not have a relationship prior to Stralman joining the Bruins on a tryout (though they were teammates on Team Sweden at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey), but it’s worth noting in the sense that I can’t see the Bruins spending this much time with Stralman on their de facto top pair if they didn’t plan on signing him.

    The 36-year-old Stralman had not talked about the details of a potential contract with the Bruins as of late last week, but it’s hard to envision the Bruins not signing him at this point. (Especially if he comes in at a similar number to Calvin de Haan, who was in Carolina camp on a tryout and signed for $800,000.)

    The duo looked solid in their first and only game together to date, with the duo dominating the puck at five-on-five to the tune of a 17-5 attempt advantage (77.27 CF%) and 13-4 edge in shots in just 14:43 of action.

  • Mike Reilly – Brandon Carlo

    Jan 4, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) reacts after scoring a goal during the third period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Jan 4, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) reacts after scoring a goal during the third period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    I think Boston’s second pairing has the most wiggle room in terms of jostling personnel to the left of Brandon Carlo, but I have a feeling that Mike Reilly gets this spot out of the gate in 2022-23.

    Something to consider: When fully healthy, the Bruins will have five left-shooting defensemen on their NHL roster. And Mike Reilly, who is entering the second-year of a three-year, $9 million extension signed in 2021, really did not like sitting as a healthy scratch last season. (It’s hard to blame him given his decision to stay with the Bruins after what was an extremely strong 2021 season between Ottawa and Boston.) And at $3 million, he could be a potentially attractive trade chip for the Bruins and the rest of the league when the Bruins are fully healthy (should they ever get fully healthy) and need to become cap compliant.

  • Derek Forbort – Jakub Zboril

    Sep 24, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril (67) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

    Sep 24, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril (67) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

    Jim Montgomery has raved about Jakub Zboril really from the moment camp opened. He even called the 2015 first-round pick one of the team’s top five players in camp.

    And if that’s indeed the case (and I don’t think he’s wrong, to be honest), it stands to reason that Zboril will begin the season in the lineup and not on the ninth floor as the team’s healthy scratch on the backend.

    And Derek Forbort’s status as a penalty-killing, shot-blocking enthusiast should provide him with some job security out of the gate and potentially though the entire season for that matter.

  • Healthy scratches

    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 6: Tomas Nosek #92 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on November 6, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 6: Tomas Nosek #92 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on November 6, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

  • I think Taylor Hall’s injury will provide a ‘stay’ of sorts for fourth-line forward Tomas Nosek. In addition to skating with projected minor leaguers throughout camp (and at a certain point that becomes a tell in regards to your footing on an NHL gig), this hasn’t been a great start for the veteran Czech.

    That said, Montgomery has said that he appreciates how smart of a player Nosek is, and given the way Montgomery waxed poetic about the value of lefty centers after a practice earlier this week, Nosek’s value as a lefty center on a team of almost all right-shooting centers is certainly noteworthy. Seems like he may be the first one in should the Bruins’ younger fourth line need a veteran hand out of the gate.

    I don’t think that Oskar Steen has had a particularly strong camp. He scored a shorthanded goal in last week’s preseason meeting with the Rangers, but other than that, it’s been a bit of a quiet camp for the 5-foot-9 Swede. At least compared to his competitors for bottom-six minutes and roles. You could honestly make the case that he’s been passed on the depth chart by both fellow youngsters and a couple of veterans looking to avoid waivers. But if the Bruins can buy themselves some time on risking losing Steen to waivers, I have to imagine that they will, and that Steen will begin the year as the team’s spare righty forward.

    Update: The Bruins have placed Oskar Steen on waivers.

  • Apr 8, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton (75) skates to the corner during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 8, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton (75) skates to the corner during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

  • I think this season begins with Connor Clifton as the odd man out on the blue line.

    Now, I don’t think that’s necessarily through any fault of his own, but you think about Stralman’s fit with Lindholm, the desire to get Zboril up and going after an injury-shortened season, and the Bruins potentially showcasing Reilly to the rest of the league and it’s just hard to see how it shakes out any other way. But given how the B’s run through defensemen, this almost definitely wouldn’t be a long ‘DNP’ run for Clifton.

  • Goalies

    Apr 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) and goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) after their win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) and goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) after their win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • No surprises here, and the most stable position in the entire organization, at least at the NHL level. The Bruins will once again roll with a Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark tandem for 2022-23. Both goalies have posted victories in their lone preseason appearances to date, with Swayman saving 24-of-26 in last week’s overtime win over NY, while Ullmark stopped all 21 Philly shots thrown at him last Saturday.